3 artists get creative in zero gravity

MOSCOW Three British artists tried Tuesday to make art in zero gravity - one used the cat and a mouse for a performance piece - aboard an aircraft used to train cosmonauts, but only one completed his work. The other two artists felt ill.

The plane made 10 parabola-shaped flights before landing at Moscow's Star City cosmonaut training center.

The artists experienced zero gravity in 23-second intervals during the flight, a series of steep climbs and sharp drops that simulate weightlessness.

While on board, artist Lyn Hagan filmed the predator-prey reactions of the cat and mouse in zero-gravity conditions.

Both the cat and Hagan became sick after about three loops of the plane, which cut the piece short, said Nasser Azam, one of the artists to ride the plane, nicknamed a "vomit comet." He said he did not feel queasy.

"What we found out was that the cat turned into a mouse," Azam said. "The cat was a lot more scared than the mouse."

Neither animal was injured during the flight, Azam said. Luke Jerram, the third artist on board, became ill and his project was cut short.

A free-floating Azam, meanwhile, finished pre-prepared paintings of disembodied figures inspired by the artist Francis Bacon. Azam said he wanted to pay homage to Bacon's paintings.

"Quite frankly it was euphoric," Azam said after the flight. "There were instances when I was painting upside down."

The former Merrill Lynch chief operating officer began his canvases in London using paint and finished them on board using oil pastels. Paint would have floated in zero-gravity conditions, he said.

Hagan conceived of the "Life In Space" project in 2004 and subsequently contacted the Russian Space Agency, which according to Azam offered the flight free of charge.

Azam is now the artist-in-residence at London's County Hall Gallery, which covered the project's remaining expenses.

The results of the trip will be on show at the County Hall Gallery in October.
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